The End of American Democracy 8/16/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

To say that the news is disturbing is an understatement.  I have watched recent events with increasing angst and fear over the future of our nation.  America is too strong to be taken down by external hostile forces, but what about internal?

As predicted, since the Senate refused to remove Trump from office, or, indeed, even to have an actual investigation or hearing from witnesses, he has become increasingly belligerent in his war against Americans, and has repeated displayed the power he has drawn to himself whether it is legal or not. 

The American President, according to the US constitution, is the Commander-in-Chief of the US armed forces.  In return, those in command, the generals, admirals and so forth, have always been careful to remain apolitical, never contradicting the president regardless of the party affiliation.  In return, to the best of my knowledge, the presidents have always relied on the expertise of the military leadership for advice and intelligence, at least until Trump.  Trump, on the other hand, has been hostile towards the military leaders, calling them “a bunch of dopes and babies” (July 20, 2017).  In one of his earlier hostile attempts, Trump wanted to use nuclear weapons against Afghanistan in 2016, but the joint Chiefs of Staff successfully dissuaded him from doing so, convincing him, instead, to drop “the mother of all bombs”, a 20,000 pound bomb costing $170,000, but conventional none the less.  It had almost no effect.  None the less, Trump continued to try to use the US military for his own purposes, commanding actions that seemed to serve nobody except Russia. 

In a memo dated June 2 of 2020, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley released a memo to rebuke Trump.  After marching with him in the midst of protesters for a phot op, he wrote in the memo to the troops, he wrote “Please remind all of our troops and leaders that we will uphold the values of our nation, and operate consistent with national laws and our own high standards of conduct at all times.”  In response, Trump made it clear that he does have control of his very own army, the NSA, armed and trained as a military force in its own right.  He proved that these soldiers are loyal to him as he unleashed them against the peaceful protesters of Oregon and declared his enemies to be Democratic mayors threatening to send his personal NSA troops in those cities as well. 

In 2019, southern US states closed 1,200 polling places and changed voting regulations, including shorter voting hours and more stringent requirements for photo-ID’s to vote.  Many studies and reports have shown that these actions unfairly target minority voters and constitute a form of voter suppression.  Now, in the midst of the Corvid-19 pandemic, Trump is lashing out against mail-in voting even as he and his family have requested mail-in ballots.  As people are nervous about the crowds anticipated at polling places for the 2020 election, his hostility towards mail-in voting has taken a new and dangerous form.

On June 15, 2020 Trump appointed Louis DeJoy as Postmaster General, a man who has significant investment in companies that are in direct competition with the US Postal Service.  Since then, he has fired nearly the entire leadership of the USPS and changed the operating procedures with just months before the election.  These actions caused so much chaos that the USPS announced that there was no guarantee that it could handle mail-in voting to get the ballots to be counted on time.  Today, automatic sorting machines and mailboxes in several cities are being removed.  The claim is that they are no longer needed, but if that were the case, they could simply turn them off except during high volume times.

All of this adds up to a dangerous precedent.  Trump has literally said that he wants to undermine the USPS to make it harder to vote by mail (August 13, 2020).  Is this America?  Have we become a nation where it is acceptable to undermine voting rights of our citizens?  Sadly, these actions not only interfere with mail-in voting, but it also interferes with veterans and senior citizens (among others) who rely on the USPS for medications.  Trump’s admission to interfering to suppress voting also makes it clear that his re-election is more important to him than the safety and health of people. 

The biggest question I have is that, even if he does win the election, how can anybody trust the results?  After taking actions to suppress voting, and admitting his motive in doing so, the logical extension is that he will clearly go to any lengths to win reelection.  And what happens if Biden wins?  Trump has made public display of the fact that he has an army loyal to himself.  It’s not a significant stretch to assume he will use that army to try a military coup should Biden win, no doubt claiming that the results are invalid while doing so. 

Personally, I’m weeping for America. 

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